Day: 30 October 2021

News Round-Up

U.S. Intelligence Claims That Covid May Have Escaped from Chinese Lab

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According to a recent declassified report, U.S. intelligence have remarked that the lab leak theory, which claims that the global spread of Covid began when the virus escaped from a Chinese laboratory by accident, is a plausible explanation, but has stated that the disease was never intended to be a biological weapon. The Telegraph has the story.

The report, which China branded a “farce”, said agencies may never be able to identify the source of the global pandemic but dismissed accusations that Covid was developed as a bioweapon.

Those pushing that theory have been accused of disinformation and had “no direct access” to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, it said.

One intelligence agency said it had “moderate confidence” that the first infection was probably because of a laboratory accident involving experiments and animals at the Wuhan Institute.

The report updates a review ordered by President Joe Biden amid political infighting over how much to blame China rather than governments that may not have moved quickly enough to protect citizens.

Former Republican President Donald Trump – who lost his bid for re-election as the deadly pandemic ravaged the US economy – and many of his supporters referred to Covid as the “China virus.”

The Chinese embassy in Washington said, “The U.S. moves of relying on its intelligence apparatus instead of scientists to trace the origins of Covid is a complete political farce.

“We have been supporting science-based efforts on origins tracing, and will continue to stay actively engaged. That said, we firmly oppose attempts to politicise this issue.”

Worth reading in full.

The Daily Sceptic has More Readers than the New Statesman, Novara Media and the Morning Star Combined

There’s a good little story on Guido Fawkes that caught my eye. Apparently, the Daily Sceptic is doing rather well.

An article in this week’s New Statesman (“In the Post-Corbyn World, What Next for Alternative Left Media?“) spurred Guido to do some research into their traffic and how they are performing generally. The short answer is not very well in terms of raw audience size. In comparison to right-of-centre political news and opinion sites they are well behind. Like for like The Spectator has double the New Statesman’s readership. To give you an idea how much worse they are faring after the Corbyn-era glory days, consider this, Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic last month alone had more online readers than the New Statesman, Novara Media and Morning Star combined!

Worth reading in full.

Needless to say, all credit should go to the Daily Sceptic‘s employees – Will Jones, Noah Carl, Ian Rons and Luke Perry – as well as our regular contributors and tireless moderators. Well done team!

Why Aren’t Journalists and Politicians More Sceptical About the ‘Net Zero’ Policy, Given that it’s Based on the Outputs of Unreliable Models?

We’re publishing a guest post on the eve of COP26 by journalist Chris Morrison that asks why journalists and politicians are so willing to accept at face value a scientific hypothesis that relies on the outputs of climate models, given that the track record of those models in predicting the future has so far proved to be very poor?

Delegates gathering in Glasgow for COP26 to try to stop the climate heating up face the rather inconvenient truth that the average temperature in Scotland hasn’t moved for about 15 years. Indeed IPCC members might wish to cast a new hockey temperature stick. With the handle now stretched along the horizontal, rather than the vertical, it can replace the previous climate mascot – long gone after some unseemly disputes over the surprise abolition of the medieval warming period and the subsequent mini ice age.

The delegates plan to stay for two weeks. One must hope they have packed warm clothing. For years, average November temperatures in Scotland have been dropping like a stone. It’s so bad that temperatures are falling to levels last seen in the ‘90s – the 1890s.

These trends are not confined to Scotland. Met Office figures show a similar pattern for the U.K. In fact, the 2010s were colder across the U.K. than the 2000s – a fall in average temperature from 9.3C to 9.17C, again according to official Met Office figures. On a global level, both highly accurate satellite measurements and surface measurements show that there has been no warming for seven years – and counting.

Vaccination Has No Impact on Household Transmission of the Delta Variant, Study Finds

According to a recent study published in the Lancet, those who have received a Covid vaccine are just as likely as the unvaccinated to transmit the Delta variant within a household setting. In addition, researchers uncovered that both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated had a similar viral load of the disease when infected, with 25% of vaccinated household contacts contracting the disease. The Hill has the story.

According to the study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, people who contracted Covid had a similar viral load regardless of whether they had been vaccinated. The study further found that 25% of vaccinated household contacts contracted Covid while 38% of unvaccinated individuals were diagnosed with the disease.

Researchers examined 621 symptomatic participants in the United Kingdom over a year.

“Although vaccines remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and deaths from Covid, our findings suggest that vaccination is not sufficient to prevent transmission of the Delta variant in household settings with prolonged exposures”, the study said.

In contrast, researchers noted that the vaccination was more effective at curbing transmission of the Alpha variant within the household, at between 40 and 50%. 

“Increasing population immunity via booster programmes and vaccination of teenagers will help to increase the currently limited effect of vaccination on transmission, but our analysis suggests that direct protection of individuals at risk of severe outcomes, via vaccination and non-pharmacological interventions, will remain central to containing the burden of disease caused by the Delta variant”, the researchers wrote.

Worth reading in full.

Ice Cube Denied Film Role – And $9 Million – After Refusing to Get Vaccinated

American actor and hip-hop singer Ice Cube (pictured above) has refused a request from producers to get vaccinated, denying him the $9 million earnings he would have accumulated for starring in Sony Pictures’ upcoming film Oh Hell No. The Mail has the story.

The film – which is being produced by Matt Tolmach – was looking to shoot this winter in Hawaii with director Kitao Sakurai who is best known for his work on Netflix comedy Bad Trip.

Hawaii recently became the first state in the U.S. to administer Covid vaccines to 90% of its residents aged 12 and older and producers had requested that all cast be vaccinated to work on the project.

The Hollywood Reporter has been told that Sony is in the process of finding a replacement for Cube.

Production on the film has also been pushed back as Black had injured himself back in June while filming a bit for the last episode of Conan but still work on the project.

Throughout the Covid pandemic, Cube has promoted mask wearing and even donated 2,000 protective face masks to Bacone College in Oklahoma back in August.

In April 2020, he even unveiled a ‘Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self’ range of clothing which featured the rapper in a mask with proceeds benefiting frontline healthcare workers.

Vaccinations on set among cast and crew has become an issue on multiple film and television projects in Hollywood. 

Back in June, a statement from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) as well as the industry’s top guilds had agreed to ease protocols for fully vaccinated cast and crew.

Worth reading in full.

The Role of Citizen Journalists in Discovering the Truth About Covid’s Origins

Viral, a new book about the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by Alina Chan and Matt Ridley, investigates whether it was a naturally occurring virus that jumped from animals to humans… or a lab leak. The Daily Mail has published an extract in today’s paper in which the authors describe the role of citizen journalists in discovering the truth that the mainstream media wasn’t interested in.

In the city of Bhubaneswar, India, a man known as ‘The Seeker’ was rifling through a Chinese website.

It was May 18th, 2020, and he was responding to a tweet by an American scientist speculating about the origin of the virus ripping its way across the planet.

And, using login details he’d found online, he was searching through a digital anthology of academic work.

Then, suddenly, he stumbled on a medical thesis which reported how, in 2012, six men fell ill after clearing out piles of bat guano from an old copper mine in Yunnan, in south-western China. Three of the men had died.

The doctors suspected the men had caught a virus that originated in bats, and the case had been investigated by virologists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), more than 1,000 miles away.

The Seeker, a slim 30-year-old with shoulder-length hair, has been accused variously of working for the CIA or Indian intelligence services. But the truth is rather less dramatic.

“I learned how to make search engines work for me,” he told us. “It was more madness than method.”

Motivated by an interest in finding out how the pandemic began and skilled at trawling the internet for clues, he began communicating on Twitter with a group of other internet ‘sleuths’ from around the world – all pursuing the same question: where did the virus that causes COVID-19 originate?

Soon, some of the sleuths had coalesced into a loose confederation known as DRASTIC (Decentralised Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19). And more key findings were quick to follow.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A U.S. intelligence report claims that the lab leak theory is probably correct, given the dangerous nature of the experiments being done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the lax biosecurity protocols. The FT has more.

Hide the Vaccine Failure: UKHSA Caves to Pressure and Removes Chart Showing Higher Infection Rates in the Vaccinated – as Effectiveness Hits New Low of Minus-132%

It appears the critics finally got to the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The new Vaccine Surveillance report, released on Thursday, has been purged of the offending chart showing infection rates higher in the double-vaccinated than the unvaccinated for all over-30s and more than double the rates for those aged 40-79.

In its place we now have a table similar to the one below that I have been producing for the Daily Sceptic each week (though without the vaccine effectiveness estimates), and a whole lot more explanation and qualification.

Here are our updated charts of unadjusted vaccine effectiveness over time from real-world data in England.